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The place is dry?
I may have caused some confusion in responding to a post by Steve Abramowitz.
The confusion may arise from my failute to "sign" a post about the level or
the Dead Sea and the moisture in the area in the period from about 100 BC to
200 AD. My failure resulted from hitting the "Enter" key on my keyboard
rather than the "Tab" key and then being unable to escape the initial
mistake. So, I'm sorry for whatever confusion I created.
Steve Abramowitz responds that "Does the fact that there was then a larger
sea make it any less toxic? The reason it is the DEAD Sea is that it cannot
support life due to the chemicals in it."
But this observation is not too relevant. The point is that several scholars
report that the the rainfall and moisture in the area of the Dead Sea was
considerably different during the relevant (?) period of time. Whoever was
farming along the west coast was not farming in or on the toxic Dead Sea
itself, but rather farming around it where there were more fresh water
(demonstarted by salt cave evidence), vegitation (demonstrated by pollen
etc), animal life (demonstrated by remains), and people (demonstrated by
archelogical evidence). The level of the sea merely may serves as
confirmation of the additional supply of water falling in the area above or
around the sea itself.
Moreover, it is simply not true that there is no vegitation at the site in
its present more arid form. I am not a biologist or expert on plant life,
but this desert area is teaming with all kinds of life. It is far different,
than say the coastly deserts of Peru. There are some beautiful flowers in
the hills and other areas all around the site.
I really don't want to argue about that point. The issue I'm trying to get
at is that there seems to be an impression that this place was "remote" and
inhospitable in the period of say 100 BC to 68 AD. I tend to doubt those
characterizations. Jericho is not far away. It has supported human
habitation for as long as any other site on earth, I think. En Gedi was
located on the Dead Sea coast and, as I recall, at one point was second in
population of Judah only to J. The Dean Sea, toxic or not, provided a method
of transportation. Surely this is not the Med. Sea coast, but it seems
unlikely to me that people in the area came there to suffer the elements.
Part of the monastic idea seems to come from the notion that Q was a place
no reasonable main stream person would want to be. Part of the fort idea
shares some of the same suppositions. If Essenes were there, why must they
be viewed as some marginalized group. They are one of three groups
specifically mentioned by Josephus. Whatever their membership count- and
however "membership" is defined - it is not much of a streatch to assume that
many people who were not officially counted in their ranks nevertheless
shared at least some of their beliefs. As to the issue of why the Romans
would wipe them out, my guess is that the Romans basically couldn't tell
them apart from the P's or S's. After all, many scholars on this net seem
to disagree about who they were more like among the then contemporary
factions. Isn't it reasonable to suppose that in about 67 - 68 AD they all
"looked" alike to the average Roman general. That is, those monotheists that
had odd ideas about the calendar, their temple, eating food, marriage etc.
and who couldn't even get it straight among themselves.